“The key for Malaga is in the winning character of its players, and their personality”.
These are the words of an euphoric Manuel Pellegrini after Malaga’s historical qualification to the Champions League quarter finals. Malaga CF’s victory against Porto on the 13th of March at La Rosaleda was a well deserved present for the Chilean coach and the team, this season they are not only dealing with doubts and debts, but also with a President that we are no longer sure believes in them.
The Sheikh has not set foot in the Andalusian city since October 24th. The only means he uses to support and congratulate his beloved team is through posting on his twitter account from time to time. It is not surprising then that some players feel he is not satisfied with their performance. According to the Argentinian player Martin Demichelis :
“There is much uncertainty with this project and it seems that we are still not motivating the owners”.
He also affirmed in the name of all of the team that:
“We don’t want this great Malaga to last just one year, selling Monreal on the last day of the transfer window was a bad sign, instead of thinking about improvement they took the chance of selling him, and I think Isco will be the next one”.
He went on by exonerating Pellegrini from the club’s situation by saying that
“Manuel has not lied and is not responsible for the uncertainty in which we are living. It is the owners who need to show signs of life and figure out what they want to do”.
Thus, the team finds itself between joy and mistrust. They are looking forward to playing against Dortmund in La Rosaleda on April 3rd and are feeling the warmth of their fans who are supporting them more than ever but they are fearful for Malaga’s future. We can not forget they are still facing UEFA’s sanction for next season, and waiting for the result of the appeal presented to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) which may not give an answer until June. These conditions will obviously affect the team’s plans for next year.
Under these circumstances we are not surprised to come across rumours about the Sheikh and his plans.
Last week, a sports program on the Andalusian television channel reported that negotiations are open among the managers of Malaga CF and the owners of Paris Saint Germain. The major shareholder of PSG, Tamim Bin Hamad, happens to be Al-Thani’s cousin. They both share their passion for football and publicly express the good relationship between them. Apparently, the Sheik Tamim Al-Thani would not be able to buy the club through the funds of Qatar Investment Authority due to UEFA’s regulations; however contacts could be arranged with people around him to make the transfer through a different holding company.
The general manager of the southern Spanish team, Joaquin Casado, has denied this information, stating that Ben Nasser Al-Thani will still be investing in Malaga CF and that he is optimistic for the future of the club.
“El jeque de Malaga” (the Sheikh of Malaga), as they call him in the Costa del Sol, is constantly in the spotlight and he complains about the lack of trust in him and his commitment. He pleads for Malaga to be treated as a normal football club:
“I don’t know when all these rumours will stop…, is it the only existing club? Are there not other clubs in the world?[to talk about]”.
Ultimately the Sheikh will be judged by his actions and not his words and, if Al-Thani wants to be taken seriously by players and fans alike, it’s going to take more than some posts on twitter and a few more blank cheques.